Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - who lives here?

These mud nests are right at the very top corner of the garage door. They're only small, maybe 5 cm long by 1 cm diameter. I spied them today, which makes me wonder how long they've been there!!

No one seems to be at home right now, and I suspect it might be paper wasps' nest. (If so, Mr E will be out with the bug spray drowning them in it, so I might keep it quiet for a while).

Oh no. I'm wrong! What a shock!

I think the nest might belong to POTTER WASPS. I was so close! Thank goodness for the Australian Museum website, here's their info on potter wasps.

Paper wasps make nests that look like quills of paper. Potter wasps make mud nests. Gees, you'd think I'd be able to remember that now! I've never heard of potter wasps before. Now I'll know.

Potter wasps are only 1.5 cm long and are solitary. So no colonies forming with these guys. And they're not aggressive and rarely attack humans (Mr E will be so happy; I still might keep quiet though!).

The mud nests are filled with caterpillars and grubs that they stock in there, cover in mud, ready for their larvae to eat them, live! It's like a living larder. Right. I'll remember not to knock that down on my head :)

Pretty stoked about learning something new today. I'll have to keep my eye out for the wasps.

This is why I love Wednesday's posts. I would have gone on believing they were paper wasps, and never even met a potter wasp without having to look this up!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

After the Author Talk


L to R: JA Low, me, Donna Gallagher, Cassandra Samuels, Diane Robson
I did my first author appearance on Sunday, at the Wollongong Writers Festival, on a panel sponsored by ARRA, called Sex on the Beach.

The panel was chaired by Diane Robson, and had 4 of us to talk - Cassandra Samuels, Donna Gallagher, JA Low and me.

Here are some photos from the event.

See, I talked!
I've had no voice for over 3 weeks, but this panel was something I thought I had to do. Speaking at a Writers Festival is on my bucket list, no scratchy voice was going to stop me doing that! So off I went.

We had microphones, so that was really good for said voice. It was a fabulously organised event. The room was at the end of the Illawarra Brewery, which is on the eastern terrace of WIN Entertainment Centre (right next to WIN Stadium where I watch most of the live the footy games now days). The venue is close to the beach too, so perfect for a sunny afternoon!

Anna Simons, Cate Ellink, Sheridan Kent
I digress. There were a dozen or so ARRA ladies, a couple of writers, and about 20 others I didn't know. I was expecting a handful, so this was fantastic.

Diane asked us a lot of questions about our writing, the genre we write in, our characters, how we write.

Donna and I made a little foray into rugby league, but then we kept on track! She's the reason I write rugby league stories - she has a rugby league series (a team of books!) but she didn't have my favourite players in there, and I had to remedy that!

A couple of friends popped down from Sydney to surprise me, which was fantastic.

People asked questions from the floor. They laughed, seemed engaged and seemed to enjoy the event.

At the end of the panel, someone even asked me if I was interested in collaborating on an idea they had for something quite outside the box - but really intriguing! I hope I get an email about that. I love writing challenges.

In all, my first outing for Cate Ellink was a lot of fun, and I'd love to go out again! Diane was a fabulous host and moderator. ARRA are great supporters of authors. And now I can't wait for the ARRA Convention in Melbourne in February...where I'm really the other me, but Cate might have to sneak in too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Author Talk This Sunday

I'm going to leave this post up all week.

AUTHOR TALK at Illawarra Brewery, next to WIN Stadium, Wollongong.

Sunday 27th November 2016
1 pm - 2.30 pm

Tickets at the venue

$10

Wollongong Writers Festival and Australian Romance Readers Association

Monday, November 21, 2016

Random Footy post

An old photo of the Australian Team

The last Aussie rugby league game for the year was on in the early hours of the morning - the Four Nations Final, live from England. Yes, of course I sat up and watched it! Although, there's something really crazy about watching football at 2 am!

I wanted to write a post about it - mostly because I have no voice at the moment and can't talk, so you'll just have to put up with my words!
Another old photo

The Four Nations was between England, Scotland, NZ and Australia, over in England. I have fond memories of late night games back in the 80s when Australia toured England then, so it's a little like revisiting my childhood, which is fun! Now there's a lot more NRL players playing in these teams, so more 'familiar' players to watch. I think it's great that guys get to represent and play at a higher level than the regular NRL games, as it often makes them much better players. They grow up somehow, take on a greater leadership role, and grow in confidence themselves. I love seeing that.

I also love seeing the bonding in the Aussie team. The first few games are always a bit of a mash-up with players not connecting and not reading each others' games. There's often a bit of one-up-man-ship, depending on the players.

Last night, I was so incredibly proud watching how much the team had grown, not only in their football but as mates (and yes, I do know it's dumb to be proud when I have no connection to it - but anyway!).

You know I have favourite players, so let me look at them first. On Cooper Cronk's side of the field, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson play outside him. The first game was a big disjointed. I could see they were working together but it wasn't quite coming off. The next game, which may not have had all 3 of them now I think of it, had the defense a bit lacking. I noticed after one try words were spoken. Last night. OMG! That combination was dynamite in attack and defense. Not a player got through their wall, even when Dugan was down in the last panicked seconds of the game. In attack, man, they were incredible. There for each other unfailingly. Ferguson would be running out of space and throw a pass in field, Dugan would be there, catch it and get it out to Cronk and the attack would go on. Not once, but 3 or 4 times. Brilliant. They just knew where each other would be and knew they'd be supported. God, I love football like that.

Cronk and Thurston are masters. They'd be swapping sides of the field depending on the play and how each other was situated. It's incredible to watch these two reading the game so spectacularly and working together so seamlessly. And when Cronk took a big hit early in the second half, the play all came off JT. To have the ability to shift the attack like that is a mark of a fantastic team.

Which comes down to the captain's incredible skill at commanding the game. Cameron Smith is amazing. He seems indefatigable. He makes the most amazing calls and has everyone around him calm and professional, always.

And there were no thugs, no showboaters, no one above another. When a try was scored, the team were all there to congratulate not only the scorer but those who worked hard to make it happen.

I wasn't a fan of a couple of guys in the team before the Four Nations...I'll have to eat my words and go back on my impressions. In the Aussie team and this campaign, they grew up and became people I liked to watch play football. They still hit hard, didn't lose their toughness, but they lost the shitty dirty stuff that pissed me off. They dropped all the bullshit and played football...and to me, that made them so much better players. I love seeing that, and I hope that in 2017 it stays in their game.

I'm so excited for the NSW Blues team next year. Some of the guys in the Aussie team will be in that team, maybe even in the leadership group, and they'll be all the better for this England tour. Oh, I'm excited for State of Origin. One of the Blues forwards said a few things that made me excited. David Klemmer said he was shocked to be picked for Australia, and was then worried about meeting the Qlders and the coach because he'd been aggressive in the State of Origin. Then he got in the team and realised he had nothing to be worried about. Later on, I heard him say how much respect he had for the coach, and how much he'd learned, and I could see that. He's out to show his football skills now, no need to prove anything to anyone any more. God, I love seeing that.

I love watching Darius Boyd play a fullback that plays in the line, knowing that his wingers will have his back if things don't go as planned, and knowing the cover defense if strong. It gives a greater dimension to his game, and to the team.

I love watching GI run off JT. I love the forward pack's dominance and belief in each other. How the interchange happens almost seamlessly, with one hard man replacing another without major changes to the game.

I like watching Michael Morgan play from the bench and develop his skills in the game, and in reading the game. I think this roving reserve role makes a better halfback because they not only watch the game, they're playing it from various positions so they know the game better. I'm going to enjoy watching him develop as a player.

I like watching Boyd Cortner and Tyson Frizell develop more. They're such great talents. I like the "older" guys working with the younger ones, like Matt Scott and Sam Thiaday with Shannon Boyd and David Klemmer.

I better stop going on. I have my newest story to finish up. Yep, another footy player one...but not exactly one that would happen anywhere but in my mind!

Go The Roos!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Story - Author vs Author

Through the Erotic Readers and Writers Association Call for Submission page, I found a thing that interested me. It's a writing tournament.

Author versus Author

The idea is that 2 authors are paired at random and write a story, chapter by chapter. Then when the story is complete, 5 judges choose the winning author. The book is then released on Amazon and everyone can read the story and see if they would have chosen the same author.

I think that the winning author goes on to the next round, to do the same thing again.

Anyway, it sounded like fun. A way to find readers. Plus sometimes I like to challenge myself! The Naughty Ninjas have done these kinds of things on a small scale and they've been interesting, challenging and fun. So why not!

If you're a bit keen, check out the Author versus Author website for more info and then drop them an email.

I'll let you know when my story is finished - even if I lose :) I'm in an erotica tournament.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Phallic Friday - extremes

I seem to be surrounded by extremes at the moment - maybe it's just the bubble I live in, or maybe the media I'm looking at, so if it's not affecting you, just ignore me!

In domestic and world politics we have the extreme left vs the extreme right - and maybe the extreme left and the extreme right versus everyone else as well as each other!

In various countries, we have extreme religious sects trying to enforce their views.

I'm not one for extremes. Even in sex, I don't go for the softest or the harshest of anything. I like being somewhere in the middle - happy to try most things, but feeling most comfortable when I'm in my safety zone.

I'm all for people trying extremes. If that's what you want, go for your life. Just don't try to force these things on me, or anyone else for that matter. Sure, offer your extreme views, but please accept my decision when I politely decline.

Humiliation is something I really struggle with, as I've discussed before. I also don't really want to participate in serious flogging, or cutting, or knife play, or scat, or necro, or piercing, or tattooing. I'm not into pain in a big way. I'm not really even into Alphas. I'm not a very good Dom or sub, I'm a better switch. See, I like the middle-ground. Those extremes worry me. I'm not cut out for it.

So, while the world is struggling with extremes, and while extremes in erotica is still quite a trend, I'm here on my middle ground feeling decidedly uncomfortable.

While I'm happy for you to live your life, and let me live mine, many times people who like extremes seem to feel the need to force these on others. That makes me squirm.

I worry that as extremes take over the world, will I be silenced? Will erotica/erotic romance be stopped because it offends some extremists' taste? I hope it won't ever come to that...but I'm worried that it will. And if it does, will I have the strength of conviction to write in my prison cell as the Marquis deSade did?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - Super Moon

This week has seen the November full moon, which is also the closest the moon will get to Earth until 2034 - and it hasn't been this close since 1948.

Monday was the 'best' day. I'm pretty experienced at 'failed' natural phenomena due to unforeseen circumstances, so I figured I'd go Sunday and Tuesday too, just to see if I could get a good look.

Sunday - I was running late. And there was cloud cover, so that was a failure.

Monday - cloud cover. But I sat, freezing, waiting. There was a big crowd at the beach (more people than I usually ever see on the beach!). About 10 mins after the moon rise time, I saw this weird hazy shape that looked like the moon. I took a photo. Then thought I was hallucinating because it was pale, hardly visible. In the end I told myself that we only have 1 moon, so it had to be it. As it went behind clouds, I left the crowds on the beach who were still waiting for the super moon!

Tuesday - later arrival of the moon, which would mean it was dark at moon rise. I was thinking this would be the night. Trundle down to the beach. Once again, there was a decent crowd. As the sun was setting, the crowd made a nice silhouette on the dunes (photo). Then I waited. 8.18pm was moon rise. At 8.20pm I sent a text to Mr E saying I was coming home. And then, an orange glow lit the Eastern sky over the ocean. Snapped a shot (photo) and sent it to Mr E, who wasn't very impressed. And then I watched the beautiful orange ball rise above the ocean, streaming golden light towards my feet as I paddled in the waves.

My photos are crap, but my heart was full. As full as the glorious super moon! :)


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Story Sunday - heroes and heroines

I attended a friend's wedding recently and I mentioned to a couple of people that this friend had been a revelation to me and had helped create "Cate Ellink" - the bold woman who writes about sex :)

They hadn't been aware of this, and so I guess my friend isn't either (bloody slack me). So I have penned her a letter, and I'm writing this blog post.

I'd led a very sheltered life and so was quite naive right into my 20s. Add to this low self-confidence, and a girl more used to being mates with guys than sleeping with them, and that's me.

A few things happened within a short period of time to change me, or at least find another side of me. One of those things was going out with a bunch of confident girls. They changed me, and how I saw myself - even though a couple of nasty people had said they only went out with me so they looked more attractive. Sometimes friendship can overcome nastiness :)

One of these confident girls was, well, let's call her Samantha because she was one of the people in my head when I created Sam in Deep Diving. My friend Samantha is not a small girl, definitely no size 8. But she needed to be her size for her chosen sport, at which she worked hard to succeed. And she did succeed, winning an Olympic Gold medal, as well as other Aussie and world championship medals, etc. Sam, my friend, was confident - with her work, in herself, with men.

In the opening scene in my book, Sam wolf whistles at Cooper as she follows him along a beach. My friend would do things like that - sit down and start talking to a famous sports star at the airport bar, pick up the male model at an event, spend the weekend with royalty. Fame, fortune and looks are no barrier to her. She treats everyone alike, and well.

With her, sex wasn't something to be ashamed of - it was to be celebrated. Something that everyone does and should do - and should do well!! She exalted in it - and telling the tales to her friends. She was never embarrassed. It was fun, an adventure, an awesome moment in time. Even bad sex was discussed and laughed over.

She was a revelation. I was in awe.

Years later when I began writing, I told her that I'd write her as a heroine. She laughed and told me she just needed her happy ending. She wasn't embarrassed that I wrote romance, she thought it was awesome.

When I began writing a sexually active, kick ass heroine, the romance world wasn't ready for that. 10 years ago, we were told that heroines had to be virginal, or at least not proud of being non-virginal. That wasn't any heroine I wanted to write. My heroines needed to be proud of sex, proud of themselves, and enjoying life. So I branched into the erotic...I felt better here.

And a couple of books in, I had the confidence to weave a story where the heroine was somewhat similar to my friend. A confident women who wasn't afraid to have sex. A woman who understood sport, competition and striving to be the best. A woman I wanted to have as my friend.

Sitting at my friend's wedding, I was so moved by all the confident kick-ass women there. Women who were having fun, celebrating with her, teary-eyed that she'd achieved her happiness and another of her goals. It was one of the most inspiring weddings I've been to...and I think that's because of the bride - my friend.

And damn, I was so proud to be there. To be among those she called friend.

Do you have a friend who's your hero?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Phallic Friday - no words

I have no words.

I've lost my voice with some virus. 

Plus, the world seems to be so loud and excessive at the moment, with extreme views everywhere. It makes me want to curl into a ball and hide.

So words are all jammed up inside me.

Let's see how next week goes.

Cate xox

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Sunday Story - A Little Life

I've spent the last (maybe) 6 weeks reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I've had to read it in little bursts, reading other books in between (like my book club books because they had to read before discussion, but also lighter books to soothe me, and also ebooks because the paperback is too huge to hold in bed), but it was well worth reading.

There is nothing LITTLE in this book. For a start, it's a door stop at 720 pages. It's an epic story of life. Ostensibly it's the story of four men who meet at college and we follow their life into their early 50s...but we have their backgrounds, their childhoods, plus the lives and childhoods of their many and varied friends.

Malcolm, JB, Willem and Jude are the 4 main characters, yet the book's main focus is Jude. Jude has had an awful life. Until the age of fifteen he was constantly and horrifically abused - sexually, mentally and physically. He's tried to obliterate those memories by compartmentalising them...but they haunt him.

There's nothing little about Jude's abuse. It's everything abhorrent that you can imagine. There's systematic abuse in private institutions and the public system. There's abuse on a personal, one-on-one level. There's power plays. Relationship rape and abuse. Self abuse. It's horrific. Yet, in all this awfulness, Jude is a somewhat admirable character. You can't help but love a man who goes through so much, yet is still a decent person.

There's nothing little about the men's lives. They all have different starting points, but each man reaches incredible heights in their careers. It's somewhat unrealistic in reality, but it's a nice countermeasure in the story.

There's nothing little about the secondary characters - there are a bazillion!! People who make random cameos throughout. Others who come for a short time and then vanish. Others who always remain. Keeping track of all these people was difficult, especially after a reading break. But it's life - or at least my life. There are many and varied people involved in my life.

There's nothing little about the emotional journey of the book. It's a roller coaster. The last 60 odd pages, I read while sobbing my heart out. I do cry in books, but this was gut-wrenching sobbing where I was worried I'd wake hubby (luckily he sleeps like the dead!!). And yet, I had to keep reading. I had to get to the end.

There's nothing little about the writing. There are sentences, paragraphs, whole sections that are exquisite. There are beautiful depictions of scenery, emotion, life, relationships, family, death, art, architecture, medicine, movies, culture, food. In some ways, the book takes a look at the little every day beauty of life and love. But that's not all because it looks at the big picture of life too.

This book is haunting and horrifying, but also beautiful. It shows the very worst of humans, and the very best of humans. It shows the worst and the best sides of characters - that remain loveable/likeable. It shows the horrifying impact of abuse in any form. It shows the healing power of love and acceptance and friendship...but also how fragile and fleeting that can be. It depicts the power of sex without love, and the power of love without sex.

It's a powerful book. A haunting piece. A huge mammoth read. And I really don't have any idea how to explain the impact of this book. One part of me thinks that every person in the world should have to read it; yet another part of me wants to shelter people from the harshness of the story.

Maybe the telling thing is that I bought it in paperback thinking that Dad and Mr E would also read it - but now that I have, I'm not sure that they will. I might leave it sitting around and allow people to pick it up if they want to.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Phallic Friday - women

You know I've been thinking a lot about women and sex. I've been pondering the Madonna/Whore issue, reading the Dangerous Women Project posts, reading Emmanuelle de Maupassant's posts about erotica and authors' views on writing. There are a lot of messy thoughts in my head that are yet to form into a decent thread or idea.

Anyway, I was chatting with a woman recently that made all these thoughts even messier. You see, she'd had a relationship with a woman. This shouldn't be too weird for me, I've met women like this before...but this was different. This was someone who I've discussed sex with before. Someone who I know has enjoyed male-female sex. Someone who I know was terrified of going down on a woman.

And I can understand her fear. I've tried to write female-female sex scenes and I always stall. I have no idea what going down on a woman is like. I've asked guys and got various answers. I've tasted myself on men - and not found it revolting. It's just that I've been conditioned to believe it's revolting, fishy, horrible, slimy... you pick a horrible word and I'm sure it's been used to describe female genitals. There's still a stigma attached to oral sex, or cunnilingus in particular.

So, imagine both of our expressions when she tells me, "You know how I was scared of the sex...well, it was fucking unbelievable!!" She's breathless and excited and her words are so powerfully filled with incredulous wonder.

Nothing was revolting or horrible or smelly or whatever other word she'd worried about (and I'd worried about). It was powerful and amazing. She didn't say it was the best sex she'd ever had - but it must have been up there because of the way she was speaking.

And I began thinking - have women become conditioned to thinking female-female sex is terrible to stop it happening? Is it a male fallacy to keep their power?

It makes me wonder about my mental block with writing female-female sex. Is it mine, or a societal pressure that I haven't noticed? I need to examine the issue and work out if it's real or not. It's given me something new to think about - something else to mess up all those confusing thoughts in my mind.

Do you have any thoughts to sort me out or mess me up?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - Grasshopper

There was a grasshopper nymph on my (very dusty) front door the other day. He wasn't very big, maybe 2 cm long. I took a few photos of him.

Then yesterday I saw a larger grasshopper hiding in my backyard, and I wondered if it was the same one, now further along in life and growth stages - but he vanished before I could get a photo.

Here's a webpage with the lifecycle of the grasshopper, (https://www.uwyo.edu/entomology/grasshoppers/ghlcycle.htm) if you're interested.